The government’s efforts to implement a pilot program for Hong Kong students to study in Taiwan would be difficult under regulations that govern the student-faculty ratio and enrollment quota for international students, some universities have said.
Starting next school year, the student-to-faculty ratio at university departments is to be lowered from 40:1 to 35:1, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Dean Chang Yao-wen (張耀文) said on Saturday, adding that foreign students would be included in student statistics.
With the addition of the program for students from Hong Kong, the quota for international students, Chinese students and Taiwanese living abroad might need to be largely reduced, he said.
The program for students from Hong Kong should be handled separately, he said, adding that otherwise the “well-intentioned” policy might be difficult to implement.
The Ministry of Education has worked with the Mainland Affairs Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Agency to offer a pilot program for foreign students in Hong Kong to be admitted to or to transferred to schools in Taiwan.
NTU, National Cheng Kung University and National Chung Hsing University are among the schools that are participating in the program, the ministry said.
Many schools in Taiwan have sister-school relationships with Hong Kong universities and, given the pro-democracy protests in the territory, are trying to help students come to Taiwan, it said, adding that 174 Hong Kong and foreign students have already audited classes at NTU.
Department of Higher Education Director-General Chu Hung-chang (朱俊彰) said that the nation’s student-faculty ratio at universities is worse than in some Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, and that lowering the ratio is part of an effort to improve the quality of higher education.
Last year, it announced that schools would be given a two-year grace period until the 2020 school year to hire more lecturers to meet the standard for the student-faculty ratio, and in an effort to reduce pressure on the schools, 3 percent of foreign students would not be included in the statistics, he said.
Most university departments so far have reached a 35:1 student-faculty ratio, he said, adding that only private universities still need to improve.
The policy to include foreign students in student statistics was proposed last year by universities in a bid to raise schools’ enrollment rates to prevent them from being penalized for low rates, he said.
Due to the concerns over difficulty in implementing the program, Chu said that it would be implemented according to the regulations for students in areas affected by disasters, and that the relevant student quotas would be raised by 1 percent.
Depending on the enrollment situation, the ministry would provide support to universities facing a gap in funds for instruction and research, he added.
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